27 Oct 2017 20:48 IST

Harvard, Kellogg School are our competitors, not IIMs: FMS Dean

Sunita Singh Sengupta says being part of a university gives students access to excellent resources

On May 27, the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), one of the top-B schools in the country, got a new Dean, Prof Sunita Singh Sengupta. A gold medallist in psychology from Patna University, Prof Sengupta holds a Ph.D in Organisational Behaviour from AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies. She joined FMS as a Professor in 2005, before which she was an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta’s Behavioural Science Group from 1996 to 2005.

Five months since she took over, the FMS is now a no-smoking, no-alcohol campus. She says students played a huge role in making this possible. In an interview with BusinessLine on Campus, she spoke about how the FMS is among the most sought after MBA colleges in the country, its strong alumni network and the advantages of being part of Delhi University. Excerpts from the interview:

What are the fees at FMS for a two-year MBA? FMS has the highest return on investment among B-schools owing to its low fee structure, being part of the University, but does this mean a lower investment in faculty, courses and infrastructure?

The fees at the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) is ₹10,500 a year for every MBA programme. No doubt, our infrastructure is not on a par with the IIMs but we have not faced any problems because of that. Our classes have LCD projectors, microphones, and other facilities required. However, there is a constraint, especially when we want to subscribe to resources that cost a lot, such as the Harvard Business Review. We have been able to afford them with the help of the University but that is a time-consuming process; often, by the time students get access to such material, the semester is almost over. We are now working on an alternative strategy for access to such resources. Our key focus is that learning should not be affected.

How has being part of Delhi University been an advantage for FMS?

Being a part of the University has been a great advantage. Some well-known colleges, such as Harvard and Kellogg School of Management, are part of the university system too. One gets easy access to the resources of different departments, expert guidance and various libraries, which is not possible if you are an autonomous institute. This also brings out the true inter-disciplinary flavour of the institute.

 

Established in 1954, FMS is perhaps one of the country’s oldest B-schools, even preceding the founding of the IIMs. How has FMS kept itself contemporary and remained among the top 10 B-schools in the country all these years? Has its heritage helped?

The faculty at FMS works very closely with the students; we have a Management Science Association (MSA), which was created during the time of A Dasgupta, the Founder-Dean of FMS, that facilitates the department’s activities. One thing we are clear about is that we are not here to motivate the students; we see what kind of spark the students have for the management education programme and, after selecting students, we provide them a platform that offers all the different skills and courses; from here, they can move ahead.

Though we face infrastructure constraints, we train our students to become strong in character and competence. We also have skill development workshops in the areas of business analytics, marketing analytics, robotics and data analytics. Since ours is not the trimester system, we try to compensate this way.

Our focus in FMS is beyond the universal classroom teaching. We try to equip each student with unique strengths so that recruiters recognise their potential.

Harvard and Kellogg Schools of management are our competitors, not the IIMs, as the former are also part of the university system. Competition is always between comparables. You need to have same structure, same way of functioning.

Harit Nagpal (MD of Tata Sky) and Raghav Bahl (TV journalist turned media entrepreneur) are two among the many distinguished alumni of FMS. How have you leveraged the alumni network for the benefit of the students?

FMS has a very strong alumni network, which helps students in various ways and also in placements. We have an FMS forum, where the alumni hold excellent conferences. Last year, they held a conference on Make in India. This year they are planning one on geopolitics some time in December. The institute is focusing on creating a more engaged FMS alumni network so that they can contribute more to the academic activities.

FMS has made some changes in the admission process. Can you explain what they are?

For the admissions that will take place next year, we will give 60 per cent weightage to the CAT exam, 5 per cent to the Std 10 and Std 12 marks respectively, 10 per cent to the group discussion, 5 per cent for extempore speaking ability and 15 per cent for the personal interview. Earlier, it was 85 per cent for CAT and 15 per cent for the personal interview, so that’s a major change. The new system, which is approved by the authorities, will certainly enable us to get good students. Even IIMs don’t give more than 30-35 per cent weight-age to the CAT, as it’s just an eligibility test.

How did FMS fare in placements last academic year?

Of the total 218 students in the 2015-17 batch, 209 appeared for the placement and all of them got placed. Of the 156 companies that confirmed their participation, 81 companies made 224 offers across different domains; this led to a record-breaking placement season.

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